A SYDNEY man has become the second Australian to die within a week and the fourth this year while attempting to walk the Kokoda Track.
Phillip Brunskill, 55, died from a suspected heart attack yesterday afternoon after he began having difficulty and agreed he was too unfit to complete the 96km trek.
His death came even as the Kokoda Track Authority announced at the weekend that it would introduce new rules for trek operators next year, amid rising concerns over the safety of PNG’s trekking industry.It also follows close on the heels of the death of nine Australians en route to the Kokoda Track on Aug 12.
Mr Brunskill was among a group of 20 Australians who set out on the trail yesterday morning with
specialised trekking company Adventure Kokoda, a company spokesman said in a press release. The group was barely an hour into the adventure when Mr Brunskill began experiencing difficulties.
A company trek leader determined that Mr Brunskill was not fit enough for the trek and recommended that he return to Port Moresby.
Mr Brunskill agreed and took a rest for lunch before he started back with another trek leader, a team medic and his personal porter.
Within 20 minutes, and during an ascent, he informed the team that he felt weak and collapsed soon after.
The medic applied cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR while the group and three villagers carried Mr Brunskill on a stretcher back to the start point, where transport was organised in advance by satellite phone.
Mr Brunskill died about halfway into the 40km drive to Pacific International Hospital in Port Moresby.
Adventure Kokoda has advised the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby and will coordinate the repatriation of Mr Brunskill’s body to Australia.
Mr Brunskill’s wife and son have been advised of his death.
The company spokesman said Mr Brunskill had obtained medical clearance from his doctor to attempt the Kokoda Track.
He is the second Australian in a week to die on the Kokoda Track.
Father of four Paul Bradfield, 38, died in his sleep of a suspected heart attack early last Sunday while on the trek.
He was part of a group of 16 trekkers from Townsville raising money for a children’s cancer charity.
Earlier this year, a 26-year-old NSW man and a 36-year-old Victorian mother died on the track. – AAP